On a daily basis, smartphone screens attract scads of dust, dirt, fingerprints, or other matter, routinely leaving the screen a grimy mess. A simple wipe down with the edge of a cotton shirt — or some smudging of the screen with your fingers — certainly helps tidy up the display a bit, but there exist far better methods for cleaning the device appropriately.
To help you take proper care of your precious smartphone’s screen, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide outlining the best ways to clean a display.
Method 1. Using a microfiber cloth
By far the easiest way to clean the screen of a smartphone is with a microfiber cloth. Unlike paper-based towels, microfiber cloths gently clean a smartphone’s sensitive glass screens without running the risk of scratching them. A microfiber cloth attracts any oils or dust present on a smartphone’s screen and completely removes them, as opposed to just wiping them around.
We recommend stocking up on plenty of these, as they work wonders for cleaning and buffing literally any surface — i.e. glasses lenses, computer screens, TVs, etc. Moreover, items like eyeglasses sometimes come with a microfiber cloth for cleaning use, so you might already have one of these amazing cleaners in your possession.
To clean the screen, turn off the device — this is done to see the dirt and grime better, but also mandatory if using water (see below) — and move the cloth in a horizontal or vertical direction repeatedly. Once you finish an area of the screen, move onto the next dirty area, and continue to do wipe until the surface is completely clean.
For dirtier jobs which require a little more than just a microfiber cloth and some elbow grease, it’s okay to use a minimal amount of water during the process. First, turn off your smartphone and remove the battery (if it allows for removal). Next, simply wet one corner of the cloth with water — do not use soap of any kind while doing this — and clean the surface of the screen in a similar fashion as mentioned above. After finishing, use a dry part of the microfiber cloth to remove some of the water, though it is okay to let the screen air dry.
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We also recommend keeping the microfiber cloth clean to avoid rubbing previously wiped dust and grime back onto your smartphone screen. To clean it, simply soak the cloth in a mixture of warm water and soap, rinse the cloth completely, then air dry it fully before using again.
Method 2. Using Scotch Tape
When a microfiber cloth is out of the question — and you need to clean your screen quickly — using a strip of Scotch Tape works wonders at lifting dust and fingerprints from the smartphone’s surface. Just stick the tape to the surface of the screen and peel it off to remove any unwanted dirt and grime. Repeat the previous step as often as necessary to clean the entire screen.
A safe sanitization method
Obviously, if you’re looking to sanitize your phone, water may not do the job. Since alcohol-based cleaners may damage your phone, they’re out of the question, but UV lamps can get the job done. PhoneSoap’s $60 UV charger claims to clean your phone in a jiffy with UV light.
The PhoneSoap Charger has two UV-C lamps that produce a specific wavelength of light, which penetrates the cell walls of bacteria and viruses to destroy them. Since it’s a charger, you can clean your phone while you wait. It’s unclear how well the charger works, but it’s a decent option for true germaphobes. You can buy the charger on the company’s website.
What to avoid
No matter how appealing or correct it might seem to use a product like Windex or some other form of cleaning solvent, never resort to using these to clean your smartphone screen. Cleaners such as these have a tendency to damage the protective coating found on most devices and have the potential to ruin your phone.
A simple search online yields thousands of specialty solvents or cleaners which appear capable of properly cleaning a smartphone screen, though more often than not, these are just glorified versions of alcohol and water. There’s no sense spending some $60 or $70 dollars on a “smartphone screen cleaner,” when using a little water and a microfiber cloth works as well — if not better — as those cleaners intend.
Of course, if you’re worried about germs and want to sanitize your device, some suggest mixing a touch of alcohol with water to clean your screen. The diluted mixture may still harm your phone, however.
Never wipe or clean your smartphone screen with paper towels, facial tissues, or coarse cloths, as these have a high risk of terribly scratching the surface. Over time, these scratches build up and have the ability to render touchscreens non-responsive or altogether useless. Again, a microfiber cloth is the only type of wipe you need to continuously clean a smartphone’s screen the correct way.